State employees watch 100 to 300 hours of Netflix at work a week

Published: Aug. 15, 2015 at 2:16 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 15, 2015 at 2:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state has just begun to block state employees from being able to access video streaming services such as "Netflix" and "Hulu" from their on-the-job computers.

And Hawaii News Now has learned the state workforce spent anywhere from 100 to 300 hours in one week recently watching Netflix.

Famous for its award-winning dramas such as "House of Cards" and "Orange Is The New Black," Netflix was the video streaming service most used by state employees who watched about 274- gigabytes of Netflix programs in one week from July 28 to Aug. 4, according to the state Office of Information Management and Technology.

"Now it's perfectly reasonable that they might use You Tube.  The state uploads its own videos to You Tube.  Some of these other services, maybe. But when you are looking at Netflix, you're looking at Hulu, these are primarily entertainment services," said Ryan Ozama, communications director for Hawaii Information Service.

So the state has cut-off state workers' access to Netflix and Hulu.

"In order to preserve sufficient online access for state business, we will be immediately blocking video streaming services … " said Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy in a memo to state department heads, the governor and legislative leaders.

Information technology consultants agree the restriction is a good idea.

Burt Lum, a computer technology consultant and community college lecturer in social media, said, "It kind of eliminates the misinterpretation, the possibility for people to misinterpret what state workers are doing.  So if they discontinue that access, there's no question, right?"

"If you run a business, you'd probably make the same kind of analysis, like we're paying this much for internet.  How much of it do we need and how much of it is being consumed for things we shouldn't be paying for," said Ozawa, who has worked in the technology field for two decades.

In that one week, depending on the video quality state workers used on the job, they watched enough Netflix to equal anywhere from two full-time employees to nine full-time employees doing nothing but watching TV all week, instead of working.

Technology allows bosses to catch the TV-watching culprits.

"You could probably find out from specific IP addresses which computers are actually doing all the watching and you can also tell what time of day they may be watching," Lum said.

There are no plans to discipline workers who watched Netflix and other entertainment programs on the job, state officials said.

The state will still allow state employees access to YouTube and other free streaming media sites since they are used for public relations and training and educational purposes.

But they will now have to do any binge-watching of Netflix on their off-time.

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